This week, my essay What Swamps Teach us About Spiritual Life appeared in Swedenborg Foundation’s Spirituality in Practice blog. Here’s a quick review:
Yes, our world seems to be mired in anxiety and fear; and civic discourse has degenerated to accusations, outright lies, and rhetoric. We hear calls to “drain the swamp,” but it never seems to happen. Perhaps we are looking at the situation from too narrow a perspective. It is not just our politicians who are lost in the marsh; it is our spiritual life, too. That’s the message of this essay, which explores the correspondence of swamps in nature with the problems of psychological stagnation, economic and political entrenchment and the absence of spiritual life.
The common thread connecting our negative image of wetlands with these civic, social and spiritual problems is this: when purity and freshness, in the image of clean water, does not flow in our wetlands, our personal lives and our civic lives, these systems cease to thrive and start to decompose and decay. As Ezekiel said millennia ago:
But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. (Ezekiel 47:11)
The same is true of our spiritual lives. If we close ourselves off to spiritual ideas, and the possibility of having spiritual experiences, then our spiritual life will be deprived of sustenance and will decay. Without the water of spiritual renewal, meaning and purpose will no longer be present in our lives.
“It all ends where it begins: with the water of truth that is the source of life.” (essay conclusion)
NOTE: This is the second of two essays published by the Swedenborg Foundation. The first was Transformational Fire.